No One Knew This PS Vita RPG Was Coming Out

Fans of Japanese developer Gust's long-lived series of alchemy-based Atelier roleplaying games are a little miffed with Tecmo Koei. First, the latest PlayStation 3 instalment of the game -- Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk -- hit store shelves earlier this month to very little fanfare. Then, the PlayStation Vita port of Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland came out earlier this week with absolutely none. What is going on?

This is a series I've been following religiously since Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana for the PlayStation 2. Up until recently the series had been handled in North America by NIS America, whose marketing and PR team work their asses off making sure fans were foaming at the mouth for each new instalment. In fact, the only reason I knew Atelier Ayesha was coming was because NISA helped spread the word.

Series developer Gust became a wholly owned subsidiary of Tecmo Koei in late 2011. Reportedly the publisher intended to make social games based on the Atelier property. Social games aren't exactly thriving at the moment, so Tecmo Koei is left to publish the console and handheld titles.

These latest titles haven't been launched so much as they've been gently pushed in the direction of fans. RPGFan's John McCarroll posted an excellent editorial neatly demonstrating the insulting lack of dedication Tecmo Koei has shown to the series.

This is incredibly frustrating, not only for fans, but for writers alike. For someone like me, who is supposed to be on the ball about what RPGs are coming out, when they're coming out, and who's publishing them, finding out that a game has launched from a random person on Twitter is a bit of a shock. While we've certainly seen games from smaller publishers announced without notifying the press -- UFO's Elminage Original springs to mind -- at least Elminage had a press release featuring a launch trailer when it actually hit PSN.

I reached out to Tecmo Koei for comment on the stealth release. First I contacted the PR person that had half-heartedly communicated with me about Ayesha -- NIS did all the heavy lifting there -- only to find he no longer worked for the company. So I contacted the generic PR email listed in the auto-responder instead. The response I received led with a joke.

"New tactic to get the community involved and talking about the game." Well that certainly worked.

"Seriously, we're working towards providing better support and representation for our newly acquired Gust titles."

The best way to do that? I'm with McCarroll on this one. Give the series back to NIS America to publish. They know the fans, they know the series, and they aren't afraid to send out several thousand emails to get those points across.

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Comments

    If it makes them feel any better Totori+ was in the radar here in au!.... for the probably being the first ever game to be screwed up by the board to be rated innapropriately rated as R18+

    That being said... indeed it seems like TK isn't really doing much w/ Gust and the Atelier brand besides going "meh its a JRPG just release it". Ayesha has actually been out in AU/PAL region since last week... not one word of its release however =/

      Just as an addendum..

      TK's position on GUST and JRPG's as whole at the moment seems like "I have a studio and don't know what to do". As the RPGFan editorial mentions TK aren't exactly lacking when it comes to promos and advertising just look at their flagship stuff and we've had a plethora of promos and whatnot...

      And then they acquire a studio that for all purposes doesn't match their usual published stuff... have about 2 games in the pipeline already before taking over and just doesn't do ANYTHING w/ them (just look at the drama over the lack of Jp voices on Ayesha... heck just the lack of the CE!). TKA doesn't even list the Atelier games (only EU does) and most of the news is just about their flagship stuff (DoA, DynastyWarriors, etc.). EU gets a few nuggets about Atelier releases *and* anounces the website is open for Ayesha. *AFTER* the games release...

      Again this is not to say TK is a *bad* publisher on whole their very good at what they do. The problem is when someone acquires a studio that for all purposes they have no clue on what to do with. It's like when EA acquires a studio they think they can make a quick buck from w/ tie ins and realise that the money isn't there for the cheap tie-ins and then do such a half assed job on the main titles that they alienate the existing fanbase. The tragedy here is that the Atelier series *is* a popular series and if its been relegated to just back bench status by TK its a wasted IP. TK will need to get their heads around the fact that they have a viable studio here and work w/ that soon before the next few steps further alienate the fanbase and bury a very good series.

      The board may have judged it unfairly, but when I first downloaded the game (I've never played an Atelier game before, although I've often heard friends gush about it) I was pretty freaking appalled to see I could dress up a pre-pubescent girl in swimwear and outifts that showed off her underwear. Of course, the game is nothing like that, but those extra features sure as heck concerned me.

        It's rated R for "sexual violence" though. I could at least partially understand, though not agree, if they used that as their reasoning for the R rating, but they didn't.

        http://www.classification.gov.au/Pages/View.aspx?ncdctx=mh8vbgD796YJ2RWSuMNIdIWf%2BEyuTEuEKG86SY3V6yl8TbcNz7LR0XlHJPUi2PQF

          @limimi: Totori was originally M (or was it MA) for the "sexualised" content. I would have been fine w/ that (also just a note Totori by far is not the first JRPG to have "beach" costume options Tales of Symphonia is one recent JRPG that comes to mind)

          @shadwell: From what i gathered the "Sexual Violence" is a misnomer. The ratings is officially medium sexual content and high violent impact. They basically just mashed the two problems into one "rating" hence the even more misleading Sexual Violence content rating... either way it's a rather "odd" decision to put it lightly...

            Totori was originally PG. Not even M.

              The Atelier Totori plus rating has actually been removed from the Australian ratings board. I just went looking for it to see if there were any changes after the release.

                This is interesting, perhaps they're challenging the rating.

    TK clearly have no interest in Atelier in the west and are sending these games out to die. If they're going to be this way about it why did they take over handling the game outside Japan in the first place? It's quite depressing really. NISA were doing a great job with the series and it was as far as I know gaining in sales each installment. Ayesha is the best of the PS3 games and was completely hamstrung by the apathetic TK release, then to see Totori+ get a completely unannounced release on a platform that's desperate for new games just makes you wonder what's going on.

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